Chairman’s Message, Board & Governance

While rural Australia still experienced its fair share of drought, floods and fires this reporting year, the dominant issue was the impact of COVID-19.

The pandemic, which is still with us as I write, has created significant challenges for the whole country, whether directly affected by lockdowns or not. In some states, community groups have been unable to do their normal work; volunteers have had to stay home to stay safe, travel and tourism have been severely curtailed, and events – so often a source of local fundraising, as well as being critical for keeping people connected – have virtually stopped.

Despite all of this, with the generous support of our donor partners, both long-standing and those that partnered with us for the first time, FRRR granted out more than $19.7M to support more than 900 local projects.

This confirms the resilience of rural communities, and their ability to adapt and evolve, no matter what comes their way, and continue to create vibrant remote, rural and regional communities.

This is all the more remarkable given that communities were also dealing with the ongoing impacts of bushfire recovery, as well as floods and storms, the ongoing drought in so much of Australia and the devastating mouse plague that worked its way down the east coast. I thank and congratulate all of the local leaders who have persevered and continue to work so hard to sustain their communities.

I know too, that COVID-19 has been a challenge for FRRR’s staff. On behalf of the board, I acknowledge and thank them all for the way in which they too have responded, ably led by CEO Natalie Egleton. What began as “working from home for a while” has now become the norm. The team continues to support one another, and most importantly, to support the communities across the country.

We continue to enjoy the support of our Patrons, who are generous with their wise counsel. I also thank to my fellow Directors for so generously giving their time to attend meetings and serve on committees to review the grants we award. We have all had to adjust to a new way of working and I appreciate your support and ongoing efforts.

It is this collective commitment to ensuring a strong, vibrant remote, rural and regional Australia, that is at the heart of a strong and vibrant nation. I trust that you will enjoy this Review, which offers a glimpse into the work of the Foundation this past financial year.

Tim Fairfax AC
On Turrbal and Jagera Country

Strong Governance

FRRR is a company limited by guarantee which holds DGR-1 status via a special listing in the Tax Act. Our operations are overseen by a Board of Directors, which exercises the powers vested in it by Corporation’s Act and the company’s constitution. The Board is directly responsible to its members, the Sidney Myer Fund and the Australian Government, for the long-term health and prosperity of FRRR.

With a commitment to continuous improvement, a simplified and modernised Constitution was adopted during the year. The Board Charter was also updated and the regular review, update and development of new policies, procedures and the risk framework continued. We extend our gratitude to Herbert Smith Freehills for their guidance on these initiatives.


By tradition, His Excellency the Governor-General has been FRRR’s patron in chief, since our inception. The other four patrons were all actively involved in the formation of FRRR, and closely involved in the first 20 years of our operation. We appreciate their ongoing support and interest in the issues in remote, rural and regional Australia and in FRRR’s activities to address those issues.

  • His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
  • Baillieu Myer AC
  • Hon John Anderson AO
  • Rt Hon Ian Sinclair AC
  • Bill Kelty AC

The Board has a Nominations and Appointments Committee, which meets as required, and a Finance and Audit (F&A) Committee, which meets quarterly. The F&A Committee oversees all aspects of financial investment and management of the Foundation.

During the year, FRRR adopted a new ethical investment policy. This includes a commitment to invest in companies that avoid harm and work toward solutions for the benefit of the environment, human rights, public safety, and the communities in which the organisation conducts its operations or the dignity of its employees.

The portfolio is managed in a manner consistent with FRRR’s mission and values, where possible there is a preference for investments that benefit regional and rural Australia and that are aligned with FRRR’s strategic aims which includes impact investments.

We also appointed a new Audit partner, BDO Australia, and adopted a simplified presentation of accounts. They confirm our financial processes meet all statutory requirements, and you can find a copy of the audited accounts here.

Meet the Board

FRRR’s Directors bring different skills and expertise to the table, but they share a passionate belief in the critical role that remote, rural and regional Australia plays in the prosperity of Australia.

You can read more about them elsewhere on the website.

  • Tim Fairfax AC – Chairman
  • Annie Grindrod – Deputy Chairman; Chair, Nominations & Appointments Committee
  • Ian Allen AM
  • Paddy Handbury
  • Fred Grimwade – Chair, Finance & Audit Committee
  • Patrick Myer
  • Annabel White
  • Bruce Scott OAM
  • Sue Middleton
  • Andrew McKenzie JP
  • Hon Simon Crean
  • John Sharp AM
  • Simon Atkinson (until 21 April 2021)
  • Dr Rachel Bacon (from 21 April 2021
  • The Rt Hon Ian Sinclair AC, FRRR Patron & Community Rep
  • Alex Young, News Corp Australia
  • Alison Franco, Westpac Foundation
  • Amabel Grinter, Gardiner Dairy Foundation
  • Amanda Howard, USYD
  • Andrew Beck, Back to School Volunteer
  • Andrew Coghlan, Red Cross
  • Ange Gordon, Community Rep
  • Ann Kelly, Community Rep
  • Anthony Bradstreet, NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Ashley Eadon, Heywire Alumni
  • Chloe Parker, Heywire Alumni
  • Clive Noble, Gardiner Dairy Foundation
  • Di Bernardi, Red Cross
  • Dr Janice Hirshorn, Donor Partner
  • Elizabeth Corbett, Donor Partner
  • Emma Mactaggart, David Mactaggart Foundation
  • Fiona McKenzie, Orange Compass
  • Fleur Anderson, Community Rep
  • Gabrielle O’Kane, National Rural Health Alliance
  • Georgina Byron, Snow Foundation
  • Geraldine Roche, The Sally Foundation
  • Gina Fairfax, Tim Fairfax Family Fdn
  • Harriet McCallum, Lord Mayors Charitable Fdn
  • Imogen Archer, ABC Heywire
  • Ivan Reyes-Eames, Heywire Alumni
  • Jack Heath, SANE (formerly)
  • Jacqueline Murphy, RFS
  • James Flintoft, Member Finance & Audit Committee
  • James Hayes, Community Rep
  • Jenefer Stewart, ANZ
  • Jenny Wheatley, Vincent Fairfax Family Fdn
  • Jeremy Yipp, CCI Giving
  • Jonathan Atkins, ABC Heywire
  • Karly Pidgeon, Dept of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
  • Karyn Bosomworth, Lord Mayors Charitable Fdn
  • Katie McAllister, Heywire Alumni
  • Lachlan Rees, Suncorp
  • Leeanne Raines, NSW Dept of Primary Industries
  • Lisa Waldron, Westpac Foundation
  • Lynda Vamouskis, Beyond Medical Education
  • Mandy Moore, Resilience NSW (retired)
  • Maree Shelmerdine, Sidney Myer Fund
  • Margaret Quigley, Back to School Volunteer
  • Margaret Smith AO, Community Rep
  • Margot Rawsthorne, USYD
  • Matt Linnegar, Australian Rural Leadership Fdn
  • Michael Morris, Fire and Rescue NSW
  • Molly Hunt, Heywire Alumni
  • Olivia Alldrick, Heywire Alumni
  • Patrick Moriarty, Stategic Australia Communications
  • Penny Fowler, News Corp Australia
  • Prue Pateras, Donor Partner
  • Rahul Kushwaha, Back to School Volunteer
  • Richard Meredith, Gardiner Dairy Foundation
  • Sally-Anne Perry, SES
  • Sam Lonard, Dept of Health & Human Services VIC
  • Sandy McKenzie, Community Rep
  • Sarah Anderson, Resilience NSW
  • Sean O’Neill, Visy Pulp and Paper
  • Silvia Shamir, ANZ
  • Stephanie Paglia, News Corp Australia
  • Steve Cameron, Emergency Management Victoria
  • Trenton Mills, Back to School Volunteer
  • Wendy Graham, Resilience NSW
  • Yvette Funke, Bayer Rep
  • Zandile Dube, Findex Community Fund